You may have seen the phrase “free solar panels” in your search for information as you seek to switch to this renewable energy source. However, solar panels are not free. All home and business owners pay for the installation one way or another. Notably, many households live in rental homes where rooftop solar installation may not be an option. Apart from the product and solar installation costs, there are other costs which may be hidden or unforeseen.
Though solar energy makes financial sense, there are some ongoing costs that you need to keep in mind. Common solar hidden costs include installations and solar financing options. You may need to read through the fine print to ensure you are getting the best deal. In this article, we will look at these costs in detail.
Solar Panel Hidden Costs
PV Cleaning & Maintenance
Solar panels have a long lifespan of 25 years and above, depending on the quality of the product. These panels have no moving part, which demands regular maintenance. However, you may sometimes need repairs which can increase the overall maintenance costs over the years.
Additionally, solar panels come with long-term warranties with a cleaning and maintenance clause that needs to be met. If you are in an area with a lot of dust and little rain, you will need to clean the panels, which requires professionals periodically. DIY solar panel cleaning can be risky. It can also potentially damage the solar system. If you live in areas with a lot of rain, it can clean the dust away.
Moreover, though the manufacturer can replace the faulty panels within the warranty duration, they still do not cover the installation costs. Notably, some solar installation companies cover labor for a certain duration within the warranty period. Maintaining the services of a professional in all these cases can increase your overall cost of solar. The ease of accessibility of solar panels can also prove to be another hidden cost.
Landscaping for Ground-Mounted Solar Panels
As a homeowner, you may not factor in the landscaping cost when installing ground-mounted solar panels. However, this is a crucial consideration. You need to ensure the vegetation does not grow too high around the solar panels. High vegetation can lead to shading, reducing your system’s efficiency.
You can use herbicides to keep the area vegetation-free or mow around the area. In farm areas, some homeowners use grazing animals such as goats to control the weed and grass. However, this may not be a safe option as the animals can damage the wiring, affecting the system.
Utility Company Charges
The major benefit of switching to solar energy is reducing your electricity costs. However, it may not be the case all the time. Your solar system generates electricity for free, which you can use around the home, thus reducing the electricity bill. Notably, there are other costs that you pay to the utility company apart from the electricity you consume in your house. These charges do not go away when you install solar panels.
Though they may vary from one company to the other, it is still a cost you need to consider when getting solar. Such charges include customer service fees, demand fees for large farms, delivery fees, and others. However, these are small fees that you can pay monthly.
Additionally, your bill can increase if you use more electricity than your system generates. Using professional installers can help you size your system adequately to cater to 100% of the electricity you need.
The PV system is a serious investment that you need to protect. Solar panels can last over 25 years to 30 depending on the equipment you choose. Manufacturers’ warranties offer significant protection, but it doesn’t keep the system covered in extreme situations such as emergencies and acts of God.
In such cases, you will need an insurance cover that keeps the equipment safe. It covers fire, strong winds, severe weather, or theft. You can use general homeowners insurance to cover rooftop systems. You can also increase the premium to cover this investment.
Since ground mounts or carports are not fixed on the building, you need a separate insurance cover. You can check with your preferred insurance company for more details. Though insurance may be a hidden cost, it pays compared to the energy costs you save when you switch to solar.
System Monitoring Costs
It makes sense to monitor and track your energy production. This allows you to know the exact energy produced and point out any arising issues. However, for this to happen, you need to have a reliable source of internet. It allows the installers to do remote monitoring of the PV system.
While maintenance, insurance, monitoring, and utility charges may be hidden solar costs, they are significantly lower than the amount you save when you go solar. Homeowners still end up saving thousands each year. When you know these costs, you can plan as you consider acquiring solar.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Are there any hidden environmental and social costs for solar energy?
Yes, there is such a risk. The potential social and environmental solar impact can be caused by the use of land, water usage, loss of habitat, and use of harmful manufacturing materials.
2. What is the maintenance cost of solar energy?
The national average cost of maintaining solar panels is between $140 and $180. Most homeowners need around $150 for home inspection annually.
3. How often do solar panels need repairs?
Solar panels do not have moving parts. As such, you are unlikely to need to repair them within the 25 to 30 warranty years.